"There are literally holes in time and space where not even light can escape. Gravity wells of such immense power nothing can escape its grasp and if you stand at its edge you can feel the universe slipping through your fingers. That's where we were. Standing at the edge of the world.
At the precipice of the singularity reality itself was drained into the abyss and desintegrated one atom at a time. The mirror world was falling apart and the TARDIS was fading, drained of colour, like time eating away at old photographs and memories inside your head. The edges were burning like paper. The reality all around us was being consumed and everything burned and crumbled and died and it was beautiful.
Tell me, Denise, why are you here? And I don't mean the story, I mean here."
It was almost a commitment to sit down next to the Doctor. She thought she'd amuse him. She'd already invested so much into the stories of every soldier. You can't ask people to trust you and not grant them some in return.
"Don't know," she said and she turned her gaze to the ceiling. She smiled cheekily at the soldiers who were close enough to listen. "My sister dragged me here, I guess. The army needed everyone, so we decided to do our bit for the war effort. The first couple of days I was terrified of course that I almost couldn't bear it, but after a while I started to look around this place and these people and I thought to myself: it's good that I'm here. They need me."
A touch of solace laced her every sigh.
"If I wasn't here, who knows what would've happened? I saved lives today and that's brilliant. I'm only on break because they forced me to. They told me to get some sleep but I can't. This lot, they'll be shipped inland tomorrow. They'll be someone else's problem, except I think I'll miss them. I'll remember all their faces. I think...I think someone should."
The Doctor smiled.
"Someone should," he repeated proudly. He choked up and an ancient tear glistened brand new.
"Will you remember me?"
"As long as you finish the story," the indomitable Denise said. In her sore eyes he could tell she'd been crying too.
There were so many things he could've said. He could've told Denise what he told Amy in the face of death and bring despair into the heart of so many soldiers... It wasn't that long ago that he used to be one, relatively, which was another broken promise. He promised Amy he would keep her safe.
"I brought Amy to Paris because I wanted her to have fun," the Doctor said. "She missed out on her wedding, because I'd ruined it. What fiancée? I'm really a bad influence, Denise. Be glad you don't know me, but if you could only know about Amy. Oh, she's so strong. She's dazzling.
She stood at the heart of the fire and never flinched. She didn't even blink. She was beyond frozen with fright: she was fighting and looking for ways to keep fighting. Surviving. She turned to me and asked what we should do. Full of faith. Really, what could I have told her other than how sorry I was? I dread the day I'd let her down.
I was going to save Amelia Pond from certain destruction. I had to. The question was how, not when. Theoretically I had all the time in the world. And I could lose...basically everything. Or let five people die. Including me.
Seriously. There would come a time when I would face my end. There would come a day when the Doctor would die. Luckily it wasn't that day.
The glass edge singed and sang and there were cloister bells pounding the insides of my ears. Amy was screaming when the fire got too close but that's when I realized something. We clasped arms and I laughed. She thought I'd gone mad.
"Can't you hear it? Listen!"
With every exploding atom time and space were unleashed into the ether. The glass dimension was melting around us like a chocolate castle in the middle of summer, accompanied by the sound of crystal resounding and clashing with the bellowing of bells. Everything was collapsing! Boom! Bam! Bash! Kaput! And then there was the non-void and the anti-time and the space between spaces not to mention the fire, but there was one more thing as we all began to become buried under the weight and the sands of time.
The glass around us crumbled and burned. The TARDIS was shedding its glass skin only to reveal ghostly replicas within, transparant like darkness. Except it wasn't transparant and it wasn't dark. It was another dimension breaking though into ours now that it was at its weakest point. Seconds before total destruction.
A piercing signal was trying to break through the barriers of time itself just to find me. And all this time it had been leaving messages on my answering machine just to make sure I was okay. Except this time was different. This time I was going to pick up the phone. Thank the annoying telemarketer! Told you I'd work it in somehow! Emergency Programme One!"
The Doctor smiled, prodded Denise's forehead and then snapped his fingers upon realizing:
"Oh. You weren't there for that bit, were you? Long story short, it was my TARDIS. The real TARDIS. Time and Relative Dimension in Space. My ship. Homing in on its lost pilot, like a loyal st. Bernard dog rescuing its owner from the clutches of an avalanche. My girl had come for me. For all of us.
The TARDIS was attempting to lock on to me. And it had the benefit of not being bound to temporal dogma. It started to materialize all around us.
"Amelia Pond! Captain Jack! Nemo and poor old Simon! I can get you home!"
"Doctor?" Jack asked.
"Go on, Captain! Kiss Amy!" I said while ramming the spacey wacey compatibility lever into place. I nearly burned my hand 'cause the place was still technically on fire. " Ow! Everything's going to be all right!"
The signal now became nearly deafening for all humans. "All right! I can hear you!" I yelled back.
"Doctor, what are you doing? You promised me!" Nemo yelled.
Two TARDISSES collided. One real one and one fake one and the fake one crumbled in its shadow.
"THAT'S MY GIRL! Come on! YOU CAN DO IT!"
It was like watching a hatchling break through the eggshell, a submarine crashing through a layer of ice...like watching a phoenix rise from its ashes.
With it came a tremendous storm. A storm inside a bottle. The dam was about to break. All of time was about to crash down upon us just as it would have before, except now we had a ship!
More explosions taunted the TARDIS. She was taking one hell of a beating to get here. I kissed the console first chance I got.
I took the TARDIS just a second out of sync with the rest of time and let the waves pass. Just in time too because the glass reality had all but faded into non-existence. We were laughing because we had survived.
"We're SURFING!" I told Amy as we were both hanging on to the railings of the TARDIS.
"The seconds are separating!"
Imagine as it were reality suffocating because of a lump in the back of its throat, except its nothing like that. Better yet, imagine a boulder blocking the path of a river until the water keeps building up against it...and then think of the exact opposite of that because it couldn't be more wrong.
We were riding the shockwave straight on till morning. Time was finally allowed to breathe again, as it were, finally allowed to move, finally allowed to live...
I doubt anyone inside the cataclysm even realized what had happened as they were finally freed again. For every space its time and for every time its place. I couldn't help but wonder what happened at the heart of the storm and what it must've been like: all that time and space clumped together trapped in a big ball of...stuff.
And then there was a bang and a boom and a vavoom and a big old vworp vworp because it was turbulence and a hell of a lot of noise. I drummed Amy's back when the stuff ended but then a vicious push knocked me down on the floor again. The TARDIS suffered tremors. Then there were the cloyster bells. The alarms. Piercing another dimension had seriously put her through the wringer.
A good old kick up the backside sent her flying again but then I zapped myself on the console. Static electricity. Must've been a coincidence.
"We're not in the clear yet! Jack! Push that button over there! Amy! Keep this levelled!"
Apart from some zaps and some mild short-circuitry and one mild nervous breakdown we were doing fine. Remarkably well for people who had just nearly died. I smiled down at them. Oh, you should've seen the looks on their faces. They had no idea how lucky they were.
"You have no idea how lucky you are," I told them. I then proceeded to activate the handbrake and I might have burnt a fuse in the process. Sparks were flying over my head.
"Doctor, where are we?" Amy asked. "What just happened? Am I dreaming?"
"Paris. Death. And possibly," I answered. "You might want to check out the front door. I'm positive I didn't run into another shed. Or at least I might have. And we might want to get out before there's another fire."
We huddled at the door and opened it to reveal a bright grey sky beneath us.
"Where is it?" Amy asked and then her hair started to drop up. Simon grabbed her when it seemed like she was going to levitate out the TARDIS doors. Her necklace started dangling in front of her nose.
Then she looked up to a city of lights. Artificial gravity inside the TARDIS kept her from falling up at the Earth.
"We're upside down!" Amy said and Jack laughed.
"What'd you mean upside down?" I said. "Can't be."
"Well, you're clearly wrong!"
"The TARDIS is never wrong! We're not upside down. The Earth isn't rightside up!"
"I'm getting dizzy..."
"How are you holding up, Simon?" I asked and I patted him on the back. He instinctively jumped and moved away from the door.
"You're mad," Amy told me.
"Aint that the truth," Jack reiterated.
"We almost died," Amy said.
"But we didn't," I said. "There was a hole in time and I plugged it."
"Well, when you say it like that it doesn't sound so glamorous all of a sudden!"
"Where's the fun in that?" Jack smiled.
It became time to bring her back down and do some damage control. I feared we hadn't seen the last of this new nameless threat.
I looked up at the beautiful world that had almost been lost and felt relief before I closed the doors.
I put out some fires at the console fueled by the fresh air with a handy fire extinguisher while Simon stared out into nothing at the foot of the stairs.
"Are you all right?" Amy asked and he nodded, before he looked back over his shoulder at me. He'd read all the reports but he'd never experienced it firsthand. I listened on because that's what I do. I can't help it. I'm an eavesdropper. I frequently drop eaves. What are eaves anyway? And why's everyone so upset about people dropping them all the time?
"I've seen..." Simon de Leeuw said and his voice had turned to gravel. He cleared his throat. "I don't know what I've seen."
Then I saw his gaze drift down below the glass floor at the nomad below. The man without a ship. The man without a past. And no future. I promised him both.
Jack was holding up nicely despite his wound. At this point in time he had no idea how many lives he would end up throwing away. But who was I to judge?
"Paris!" I cried and landed atop the Eiffel Tower with a nasty bump. I hoped there was still room. What she needed was a good night's sleep and maybe a changed lightbulb or two. I think I left a box of them in the attic.
The door creaked when I pushed it open and a crowd of people gasped at us in the light of the setting sun. But there was something we weren't seeing. A group of them were crowded around something. A body.
I couldn't help but think the worst.
"What happened?" Amy asked and those that had tried to help gave way for her to see.
"Doctor..." she said and I remembered her words well. She flung herself by his side to try and save him. Anything to feel a pulse or sense a breath. He was right next to me when it happened. Right at the centre of the blast...
The veil of tears fell. Then confusion. How could this have happened? How could I have let this happen?
"It's Nikola, Doctor..." she said and I froze. "It's Nikola Tesla, but it can't be. He's dead, Doctor!"
I let myself fall against the TARDIS and I felt the wooden corner sting the hollow of my back as I embraced her sides. This wasn't meant to happen.
I didn't know what to do.